Trainee and existing tradespeople alike will know there's a lot to remember when it comes to current building regulations. Whether it's having to remember Part P when performing electrical installations or keeping energy efficiency in mind because of Part L, it's a lot to take in. However tradespeople's lives are about to get that little bit easier when it comes to house building, as Communities minister Stephen Williams announced that the current housing regulations were "complicated and confusing" and "ripe for reform".

The proposed changes are a very large scale, reducing the current 100 standards down to a mere 10, with the number of remaining pages of guidance from 1,000 down to less than a hundred. Among the abolished standards are requirements for rainwater harvesting in places that don't suffer from water shortages, requirements for more than one phone line to be installed and requirements for compost bins and secure sheds in gardens.

Another important change is that this new system technical requirements will be solely assessed by building control bodies. Currently work needs to be check by multiple organisations such as the planning authority, a Code for Sustainable Homes Assessor, Homes & Communities Agency as well as the aforementioned building control organisation and various other independent assessors.

Other changes being made to the regulations include:

  • Optional regulations such as water efficiency and wheelchair access that is up to councils whether to apply or not.
  • A single national space standard.
  • A new standard for security in new homes.
  • New energy standards which allow councils to impose locally-set targets for energy efficiency and renewables.

More detailed information is still yet to be revealed, however the news seems to have been received positively by housebuilders across the UK. Head of Residential at construction consultant EC Harris Mark Farmer said that they are "a further step toward improving housing standards and supporting house builders to reduce the national housing shortfall".

We'll provide more detailed news on these changes as they come, but for now it certainly seems like tradespeople will have a little less red tape to deal with when it comes to new house building. If you'd like to join the construction boom and become a professional tradesperson, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about our trades training courses.

Via Construction Enquirer

Although construction productivity is on the rise, its full potential is being held back by a worrying skills shortage across all sectors. With a significant portion of the workforce set to retire over the next few years, more needs to be done to encourage young people to take up construction training courses and join a workforce desperately in need of expansion. And a recent survey from the Edge Foundation has unearthed some rather worrying results...

It found that over a third of students are being actively discouraged from vocational education by schools, being told that they will be more successful if they choose the academic pathway. 22% were even told that they were "too clever" for vocational education. On the parent side of things, only half (51%) encouraged their child's choice to pursue a vocational career as opposed to the 74% that would much prefer to support them through an academic route.

Thankfully the survey did find out some positive results for the construction industry. Those that chose vocational careers were revealed to be just as happy with their choice as those that opted for the academic route, with earnings comparable between the two. 

In response to the survey, Edge Foundation CEO Jan Hodges was disappointed that so few parents and teachers saw vocational education as worthwhile, despite it yielding equal levels of happiness, job satisfaction and financial gain. Pointing out that a skilled workforce is essential to the British economy, she said:

"The stigma attached to vocational learning is old-fashioned and unjust."

At Access Training we agree that the negative stigma attached to joining the construction industry and other vocational careers needs to stop. The benefits of an academic pathway are not as glamorous as they are made out to be, nor are the chances of success. Think about it - if everyone is heading in that direction are there really going to be jobs to support everyone? The answer is obviously no, and this is why more and more graduates are coming out of university and heading straight into office jobs or unemployment. Meanwhile the construction industry is welcoming more new recruits than ever, but there simply aren't enough skilled labourers to fill the gap.

Construction training is not what many people make it out to be - it may rely more on physical skill than academia, but that doesn't mean there isn't an intergral element of theory to it. And this goes for all construction trades - whether it be bricklaying, carpentry, plastering, tiling or even painting and decorating. The same goes for other vocational trades such as electrics, plumbing or gas installation. A trade career can be challenging but ultimately rewarding, providing excellent job satisfaction as well as plenty of reward. Most importantly, what you learn on your trades training course is a skill for life.

Our training courses provide students with all the skills and knowledge they need for a long and prosperous career in the sector of their choosing, along with all of the relevant qualifications needed to be considered qualified by industry bodies. You will be taught in our state-of-the-art centre by industry professionals, each with a number of years' experience in their specific trade. Upon completion, you'll find a world of opportunity and career growth at your fingertips.

So does the academic route really sound that much better? Give Access a call on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about how a vocational career can change your life!

ELECSA and NICEIC operators NAPIT and Certsure have come together to create a single place consumers can go to find a fully qualifiied electrician. This easily identifiable mark will cover all full scope Part P registered electricians and is planned to roll out this year.

The two associations both created their own individual registers last year, but have since realised the advantages of creating a single one to avoid confusion. In addition to this, both feel that the attention given to the launches has proved a distracytion from key issues in the electrical industry - namely safety and quality. To overcome this, NAPIT and Certsure met back in November to discuss the way forward in terms of promoting competent, qualified electricians.

The proposal that has been put forward is anticipated to include all licensed Electrical Competent Person Scheme Operators in England and Wales who are approved by the DCLG to run an electricial certification scheme, who have been said to be "happy with the plans" in principle. The schemes will continue to operate individually in accordance with current Building Regulations, however they will now also promote the new quality mark as well as their own.

Emma Clancy, Chief Executive Officer of Certsure, said consumers will now benefit from a single point of reference, making it far easier for consumers to locate a registered electrician in their area. NAPIT Chief Executive Michael Andrews added that the new register will also "ensure that electrical installers continue to be able to take advantage of the choice and value for money that comes as part and parcel of healthy competition in the marketplace"

When becoming a fully qualified electrician, gaining your Part P qualification and joining a Competent Persons Scheme is an incredibly important step to take. It ensures consumers that you are fully qualified and able to perform electrical installations, setting you apart from the so-called "cowboy builders" that plague the industry. Not only that, but a Part P qualification allows electricians to self-certify their own work. This means you can sign off on any installations without having to inform your local building authority - saving you a considerable amount of money in inspection fees.

The Part P qualification, along with all electrical qualifications needed to become a full-time electrician, is available as an intensive course from Access Training Academies. If you would like the steps to become a fully-fledged electrician, take a look at the courses we have on offer and give us a call on 0800 345 7492 today.

Via Construction Enquirer

We mentioned earlier this month that the Health & Safety executive would be taking a tour of building sites across the UK to catch out any that had "less than adequate" facilities. No more than a few weeks later, their inspections have produced some rather shocking results.

So far their tour, which runs from the 2nd September until the 27th, has revealed that nearly half the sites they have visited have some sort of safety failings. Out of a total of 1000 sites, that's a very high number. Many of them had also been issued with enforcement notices.

 UCATT (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians) General Secretary Steve Murphy said: "These figures demonstrate the dangers faced by construction workers on a daily basis.

"While these initiatives by the HSE are very welcome, inspectors are only visiting a small percentage of all the construction sites in the country.

"These findings demonstrate why the HSE needs more resources to conduct this type of inspection in all parts of the country throughout the year."

Below you can see some pictures of some of the sites they visited:

A prohibition noticed was served on this extension work after exposed scaffolding was found, putting workers at risk from falling through on to the building works.

 

An improvement notice was served here as site management fell below safe standards.

 

Unsafe excavation work here led to a Prohibition notice.

 

Is this the kind of hygiene facilities you should be finding on a construction site?

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Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Academies training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us on 0800 345 7492.

Last month the Government announced that they would be making amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations, which deals with energy efficiency in both domestic dwellings and commercial properties. These changes, which will come into effect in April 2014, are designed to bring about a 6% improvement on new-homes compared with the original 2010 standard and a 9% improvement for non-domestic buildings.

So what exactly does Part L cover? The answer is essentially ANY method of providing heat and energy to your household or commercial building. This includes electricity, hot water, heating, wall/loft insulation, lighting and more. The last revision to these regulations was made in 2010, and have since made it so that every dwelling started after the 1st October 2010 must adhere to these new rules. This also stretches to new installations which are moved even slightly after this time.

An example to give it some context: Since 2010 all central heating systems and hot water outlets must be fitted with a thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) to regulate hot water temperatures and keep them no higher than 45°C. A bath fitting before October 2010 would not need one of these, and should the homeowner choose to refurbish their bath without it moving in the room this would continue to apply. HOWEVER if he or she then decided to get a new bath a move where in the bathroom it is fitted, it would then be subject to these new requirements.

Of course the Government's flagship method to bring down the carbon footprint is the Green Deal, which is pushing for more households to adopt renewable energy methods such as solar photovoltatic, solar thermal and underfloor heating. However one other method they are trying is through ECO, which stands for Energy Company Obligation. If you're on certain benefits (visit here for the full list), are retired/disabled/have children and own or rent your home, you could find you are entitled to all or part of the cost towards boiler repair/replacements and loft/cavity wall insulation.

What will play a significant part in these new changes however is lighting efficacy. The revised Part L will include a new method for measuring lighting efficiency, which takes into account the whole installation rather than the individual components. This is called LENI - the Lighting Efficiency Numeric Indicator. The Lighting Industry Association have put together a mini guide to these new requirements, including the formula and calculations to work out luminaire efficacy the LENI, which can be viewed here

Make no mistake, there is A LOT of information and statistics surrounding Part L but hopefully this post has made things a little clearer for you and given you a better idea of what is required to help reduce Britain's carbon footprint.